'Improved infrastructure in township schools will attract best teachers'

Lesufi says his department is changing school infrastructure to attract the best teachers across the country.

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi opens the Gauteng Education Summit in Pretoria on Saturday 26 September 2015. Picture: Emily Corke/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said his department is changing school infrastructure to attract the best teachers and he is not ashamed that the change is starting in the townships.

The MEC said township school infrastructure that still exists was built by the apartheid and is in desperate need of an upgrade, including building proper sanitation.

Lesufi was speaking at an Gauteng Education Summit on Saturday which continues in Pretoria today.

He said his department will unveil school infrastructure that will attract learners, the best teachers and principals.

He said there will be change and investment in school infrastructure that will safeguard children against what he calls the nyaope brigade and criminals.

"And we're not ashamed good people that we're starting with this infrastructure in the townships because that's where this infrastructure is needed."

Lesufi said creating schools to be respected and admired also comes down to the quality of the teachers

"We've to let go, ladies and gentlemen, that white teachers must teach white learners and black teachers must teach black learners. Best teachers must teach our children at all times."

He said infrastructure changes will address the serious issues with sanitation in schools once and for all.

'RACISM IS NOT TOLERATED'

Lesufi said racism is not tolerated in the education system and he will stop people who use their language policies to hide their prejudice.

The MEC is adamant he wants change in schools in Gauteng and he will begin by stamping out racists, corrupt school governing bodies and disruptions to schools by the Congress of South African Students.

He said people must move away from the idea that only white teachers can teach white children and black teachers teach black children.

"All the facilities in our schools must be open to all our children."

He said the success of the department's twin schools shows that all children can have access to quality education despite their background or their colour.

"Alexander High School in Alexandra and Sandown High School in Sandton from 1 October will be one, by one governing school body."

Lesufi said people must accept that the demographics of schools have changed and so the language policies must change.

CALL TO STOP TEENAGE PREGNANCY

Lesufi said his department has run out of ideas of how to stop the high levels of teenage pregnancy in schools across the province.

The MEC has called on those attending the summit weekend to help him address the problem.

Drugs and alcohol abuse in schools are also at the top of the agenda of the summit and Lesufi has called on the Gauteng Department of Social Development for its assistance.

Lesufi said the out of control levels of teenage pregnancy in schools are the result of a value chain: alcohol, drugs, and unprotected sex.

"It's a process. You drink alcohol, your knees get weak, then you need 'tjovitjo' (sex) and that leads to pregnancy."

He said that means HIV and Aids are entering the schooling space and his department is at a loss of how to deal with it.

But the MEC made it clear that sex education is needed.

"Before you give them condoms, educate them first, and then distribute condoms later."

Lesufi has also called on the provincial government to shut down taverns selling alcohol and drugs to underage girls.